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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fenugreek, Mint, and Olive Pita Pockets

pita pocket olive fenugreek mint

Dried fenugreek leaves (aka Methi) is a favorite addition to rotis, parathas, naans and other Indian flat breads that I make often. For a recent batch of Pita pockets, I decided to combine my favorite Indian flavors with the traditional Mediterranean olives to make quite a uniquely flavorful bread.

Mint was wild in the garden over summer and fall, which I harvested as best as I could and dried them. So, I have a bag of dried organic mint leaves in the freezer. The dried fenugreek leaves can be found in Indian stores usually. The last few from a large jar of pitted Kalamata olives gave the earthy Mediterranean flavor to the pita bread.

Much like naan, which I make on a cast iron skillet, where I brush one side with water and place this damp side down on a very hot pan, pita puffs up better when spritzed with water and is moist just before placing it in the hot oven.

Depending on how uniformly thick the rolled out pita is and how moist they stay till they get in the oven, this method seems to consistently provide puffed up pitas that make wonderful pita pockets for falafel and other stuffing. Of course, every once in a while, a few stubbornly refuse to puff up and they still turn out soft and delicious anyway.

3¼ cups flour
2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
2 Tbsp olive oil
1¼ cups warm water
1 Tbsp crushed dried mint leaves
2 Tbsp dried crushed/crumbled fenugreek leaves
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
2 tsp salt

  1. In a large enough bowl, add the warm water, sprinkle the yeast, allow to bubble; add the olive oil
  2. Sprinkle the salt, dried mint, fenugreek, and chopped olives
  3. Add a little flour at a time and mix with a spoon or spatula, till about 3 cups of flour is incorporated and the dough comes together
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead till smooth and elastic, not sticky or tight
  5. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size/volume
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 475°F at least 30 minutes before baking; leave a baking sheet (or pizza stone if handy) in the oven while pre-heating 
  7. Divide the risen dough into about 10 balls and roll each ball to about ¼ inch thick rounds
  8. Allow the dough rounds to rest for about 15-20 minutes before placing in the oven for baking
  9. Spritz the topside with water and bake the pita breads for about 3 minutes checking to see that they don't brown before they are firm (if so, turn down the oven temperature a bit)
  10. Pitas puff up as they bake; carefully remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for a couple of minutes, then cover with a dry cotton cloth to keep it soft
These pitas can be frozen for up to a month if not eating hot off the oven.

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